It's Do Or Die For The New York Giants
The Philadelphia Eagles would love nothing more than to put their foot on the throat of their division rival and end their season on Sunday. It's nothing new for them — after all, they've pretty much been responsible for ending the Giants' season at least three times in the last seven years. At 0-4, despite their horrendous start, the Giants are still only two games out of first place in the floundering NFC East. However, an 0-5 start with two division losses would almost certainly end their season, and the Eagles are hoping and praying that they're the ones who get to do it.
The Eagles need some help of their own. At 1-3, Chip Kelly's pedal-to-the-metal Oregon offense has only managed 36 points over the last two games — losses to both Kansas City and Denver. After an exciting Week 1 win against a Washington Redskins team that we now know is having some problems of its own, the Eagles have dropped three straight games to AFC West opponents and are in desperate need of a win as well.
On Sunday, the bitter division rivals will meet for the first time this season with a combined record of 1-7 despite lofty expectations heading into this season. With a new head coach and a shiny new offense, the Eagles have the potential to create a lot of matchup problems for the Giants — especially the Giants that we've seen these last few weeks. Their inability to stop the run — they've given up an average of 122.5 yards per game on the ground so far this season — means that LeSean McCoy can potentially cause nightmares for them. Furthermore, their ineffectiveness in countering the read-option that was put on display against Cam Newton and the Panthers a few weeks ago can be exploited by Michael Vick.
With an injury list that grows longer and longer by the week, it would appear that the Giants are going to set some of their younger defensive players loose this week, as Damontre Moore and Johnathan Hankins will likely play much bigger roles in the defensive game plan this week. I'm a big proponent of the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality, but there's something clearly broken with the Giants' current defensive line rotation, and if injecting some youth into the unit will help rejuvenate them and maybe get some pressure on the quarterback for a change, then all the better.
In front of a home crowd on Sunday that will be agitated, frustrated and ready to boo at a moment's notice, the Giants will have to fight to give them a reason not to. Fall behind early and things could get ugly. But the Giants can't let that happen and, most importantly of all, they can't give the Eagles the satisfaction of ending yet another one of their seasons.
If the Giants win on Sunday, they'll be 1-4 along with the Eagles. The Washington Redskins have a bye and the Dallas Cowboys, who blew a double-digit lead to San Diego last week, are hosting the scorching-hot Denver Broncos. There's a real possibility that when Week 5 is over, the NFC East standings could look a little something like this:
1. Dallas Cowboys (2-3)
2. Washington Redskins (1-3)
3. New York Giants (1-4)
4. Philadelphia Eagles (1-4).
This scenario, despite the fact that it would give just about any NFL fan extreme heartburn, means that the Giants could be only one game out of first place in the division heading into their Thursday night Week 6 game in Chicago.
It also means that despite looking more like the Little Giants than the actual New York Giants for the first four weeks of the season, the landscape of the NFC East can look very different come Monday morning. It means that despite what the media thinks and what many Giants fans fear, the season is still far from over. Remember the 2012 Washington Redskins? I should hope so, it was only last season. Anyway, the Redskins went into their bye week last season with a 3-6 record. When they returned, they rolled off seven straight wins en route to an NFC East title. The NFC East is still wide open and a division title is still an attainable goal — but it's only attainable if the level of play improves. On Sunday, the Giants must prove to themselves and to everyone else that they're making strides in the right direction.